The rain soaked Yankee Stadium grass turf and the effects of a previous ankle sprain added to the conditions that Curtis running back Ty Son Lawton was facing. But the pain or anything else wasn’t the time for the senior to make any excuses.
Lawton delivered the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter and rushed for a game-high 202 yards as Curtis earned back-to-back PSAL city conference championships in a thrilling 36-35 win over Erasmus Hall on Tuesday night in the Bronx.
“I’ve seen green. I see the end zone. Just to get the end zone and score and finish,” Lawton, the Stony Brook senior commit said. “It messed me up a little bad. It was slippery. At the end of the day, I got the job done for my team like the others do.”
The Warriors (11-1) claimed another close win in a title game rematch with the Dutchmen. Erasmus Hall had won 39-20 back in the opening week of the season, but Curtis turned to its playmakers and rising sophomores and juniors to rise back to the top.
Lawton, who missed 3 games after injuring his ankle more than a month ago against Tottenville, finished with 202 yards on 33 carries along with two touchdowns; Senior quarterback Quincy Barnes threw 7 out of 16 passes for 179 yards with a touchdown pass along with a running score for the Warriors, ranked No. 2 in New York City by News 12 Varsity.
Curtis now holds the record with its seventh league championship surpassing previous holders Susan Wagner and Bayside. They accomplished consecutive title wins for the first time since 1998 and 1999 under then head coach Fred Oliveri.
“We just finished out the right way. We did it the right way,” Barnes said. “We lost the first game of the season and it wasn’t pretty. We just cleaned it up and stayed the course.”
The Warriors executed a gutsy call by trying to convert a fourth down and 6 inside their own half of the field as Daniel Manneh hauled in a 55-yard touchdown reception for a 7-0 Warriors lead midway through the first quarter.
Erasmus Hall senior Aron Cruickshank scored a 2-yard touchdown run to tie the game early in the second quarter.
Purdue commit Amad Anderson’s (4 reception, 77 yards) 51-yard reception helped the Warriors drive down the field once again and Lawton helped Curtis retake the lead with a 12-yard touchdown run. Barnes made it 22-7 Warriors with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:30 left in the first half.
Christian Izien initially fumbled the kickoff but then recovered for a 70-yard return to set up a Shamar Logan 1-yard touchdown run to cut the Warriors lead to 22-15 with 1:13 left in the first half.
Cruickshank took a direct snap and flew past defenders for a 61-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half as Erasmus tied the score. The Warriors then compiled an 80-yard, 18-play drive that resulted in Isaiah Richards’ 1-yard touchdown run to give them a 29-22 lead midway in the third quarter.
E-Hall only needed 5 plays and only two minutes later to answers back on the board when Logan followed his 21-yard run with a 24-yard touchdown score to tie the game at 29.
Lawton continued his outstanding game with a big block from offensive lineman Brandon Mapp to scamper 50-yards for the touchdown to hand Curtis a 36-29 lead with 46 seconds left in the third. The Warriors offensive line opened up lanes all night despite the slippery grass turf almost being a hindrance to rushing the ball.
“They did a great job the offensive line. Isaiah Ortiz [offensive lineman] came down. You put the ball in Ty Son’s hands a three-year guy,” Curtis coach Pete Gambardella said. “Isaiah Ortiz is a four-year guy that made the block and he went right down the hole.”
But the turning point of the game came with 6:13 left in regulation after Logan converted his second rushing touchdown on a 26-yard run. E-Hall decided to go for the two-point conversion to take the lead but senior defensive lineman Dakar Edwards stopped Logan short of the end zone to keep Curtis ahead for good at 36-35.
“I was definitely surprised for it. I was expecting it because they was running read option the whole game and I just buckled down. Edwards said. “I saw that [Logan] was going down, they botched up the snap a little bit. It was read option and the timing was off.”
Erasmus Hall (11-1), ranked No. 3 in the News 12 Varsity Tri-State Top 25 rankings, lost for the fourth consecutive year in the championship game and its fifth such defeat in this decade.
Barnes took a look up at the sky and remarked about the end of an era winning another title with most of his teammates that had started playing with each other years ago in Pop Warner football with the Staten Island Hurricanes.
“It’s a little emotional because all of guys are going separate ways between when we were little and going here now is truly amazing that we was able to finish on top,” Barnes said. “It’s unreal. I’m ready for the 30-for-30 [documentary].”
Gambardella guided the Warriors to his third championship in ten years at the helm of his alma mater and has a lifetime record of 81 wins and 33 losses.
Curtis junior wide receiver Justin Mitchell played the entire second half with a broken wrist. He suffered the injury late in the first quarter and was diagnosed by the Yankee Stadium X-Ray machines during halftime before returning the field.
Lamont Stafford recored an 15-yard intereception return late in the second half to set up a Curtis touchdown to make it a 22-7 lead.
Erasmus Hall quarterback Keion Jones had a tough night as the senior completed only 4 out of 15 pass attempts for 70 yards along with an interception.
Cruickshank gained a team high 107 rushing yards on only 6 carries and Logan ended the game with 101 yards on the ground for Erasmus Hall. It was the final game for BCS commits such as Ryan [Temple], Cruickshank [Wisconsin] Izien [Rutgers], Matt Jones [Ohio State], Shamel Lazarus [UCONN] and Kessawn Abraham [Rutgers].